What happened in Bonn?

What happened in Bonn?

Negotiators entered last week’s Bonn session with a lengthy to-do list. Whilst they struggled to get through it all, they did begin getting their teeth into some tricky issues. Parties begun sketching out the shape of the agreement, working together to address pre-2020 ambition and bringing clarity to an outcome for adaptation and loss & damage. The to-do list hasn’t gone away, there is still a lot to play for but never fear with the next Bonn session scheduled for the 19th of October we’ll be back before you know it.


The co-chairs made it clear from the get-go that only elements supported by multiple parties or blocks could go the distance to Paris. Progress wasn’t uniform and some elements were addressed better than others but there were a few glimmers of teamwork worth noting. The G77 presented a united front on the inclusion of loss & damage in the agreement. The EU began making up for its previous lacking attempts to work with allies in AILAC and vulnerable country groupings through a renewed and proactive focus on pre-2020 ambition and adaptation. Most countries agreed that support for Measuring, Reporting and Verification was key and developed country parties like the US boosted everyone’s confidence by reflecting their intention to play their part in providing support (despite being light on details). AILAC led the way on outlining a 5 year review and upward mitigation ambition mechanism for the agreement, with AOSIS and some inside the EU in broad, if not specific, agreement. And the ever diplomatic Brazil started to build some bridges between parties positioning on the interpretation of differing levels of responsibility.

Adaptation and Loss & Damage

Adaptation and loss & damage were thrust into the spotlight this session. At long last developed countries showed they were taking climate impacts seriously. Parties gained some clarity on the value of a long-term adaptation goal and need for regular cycles to improve on adaptation efforts, share knowledge and direct support as impacts escalate. Prompted by the G77’s united position on including loss & damage in the Paris outcome the US and EU shifted their position to clearly state they envisioned its inclusion in some form. Another notable development was the signal from many parties that they wanted the link between real temperature trajectories (i.e. the result of our mitigation efforts) and adaptation enshrined in the agreement. This is good news because over time this link will help ground the regime in the dynamic reality of climate impacts which prompt shifts in national interests and the real economy.

Still to play for

There are many elements still hanging in the balance but it’s all to play for. The co-chairs have said they will deliver a new text/tool by the first week of October. The French presidency will continue their ministerial engagement and work together with the outgoing Peruvian presidency to make the best of the IMF/World Bank meetings in Lima. And after this Bonn session its clear two issues in particular need to be at the top of their agenda. The first is post-2020 finance which is the area that has least conceptual clarity, the second is to tease out the finer points of an ambition mechanism. So far the focus has been on stocktaking every 5 years, but those of us who have been in this game long-enough know that reviews are not enough to motivate more ambition. Without an explicit assumption to come back to the table every 5 years and increase ambition, Paris won’t make the grade.

Right then, back to work.


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